Ceres’ Bright Spots Come Back Into View

The two brightest spots on dwarf planet Ceres, which have fascinated scientists for months, are back in view in the newest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Dawn took these images on April 14 and 15 from a vantage point 14,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above Ceres’ north pole.

An animation and still image are available here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA19064.

The images show the brightest spot and its companion clearly standing out against their darker surroundings, but their composition and sources are still unknown. Scientists also see other interesting features, including heavy cratering. As Dawn gets closer to Ceres, surface features will continue to emerge at increasingly better resolution.

Dawn has now finished delivering the images that have helped mission planners maneuver the spacecraft to its first science orbit and prepare for subsequent observations. All of the approach operations have executed flawlessly and kept Dawn on course and on schedule. Beginning April 23, Dawn will spend about three weeks in a near-circular orbit around Ceres, taking observations from 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometers) above the surface. On May 9, Dawn will begin to make its way to lower orbits to improve the view and provide higher-resolution observations.

This animated sequence of images shows northern terrain on the sunlit side of dwarf planet Ceres as seen by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on April 14 and 15, 2015. Image credit: NASA.

This animated sequence of images shows northern terrain on the sunlit side of dwarf planet Ceres as seen by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on April 14 and 15, 2015. Image credit: NASA.

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The two brightest spots on dwarf planet Ceres, which have fascinated scientists for months, are back in view in the newest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Dawn took these images on April 14 and 15 from a vantage point 14,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above Ceres’ north pole.

An animation and still image are available here:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA19064
The images show the brightest spot and its companion clearly standing out against their darker surroundings, but their composition and sources are still unknown. Scientists also see other interesting features, including heavy cratering. As Dawn gets closer to Ceres, surface features will continue to emerge at increasingly better resolution.

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